( Courtesy Potatoes USA )

U.S. potato shippers from the 13 highest producing states had 67.4 million cwt. left in storage on June 1, up 6% from the same time last season.

That amount, however, is 16% of the total 2018 production, the same percentage as the June 1, 2018, stocks on hand from the 2017 harvest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly potato stocks report.

The 2018 production in the 13 states was also larger, at 420.1 million cwt., up from 2017 production of 406.8 million cwt.

Idaho, which leads overall production and potatoes in storage throughout the year, had 29 million cwt. in storage on June 1, which at 21% of the season’s production, is comparable to the 21% left at the same time in 2018, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service report.

The top states, their 2018 production, and remaining potatoes as of June 1, along with the same numbers from 2017, were:

  • Idaho — 2018: 140.2 million cwt., 29 million cwt. (21%); 2017: 134.9 million cwt., 27 million cwt. (20%);
  • Washington — 2018: 105.6 million cwt., 17 million cwt. (16%); 2017: 99.2 million cwt., 13 million cwt. (13%);
  • Wisconsin — 2018: 28.4 million cwt., 4.6 million cwt. (16%); 2017: 29.8 million cwt., 5.5 million cwt. (18%);
  • Oregon — 2018: 28.1 million cwt., 4.5 million cwt. (16%); 2017: 25.2 million cwt., 3.5 million cwt. (14%); and
  • North Dakota — 2018: 23.4 million cwt., 2.8 million cwt. (12%); 2017: 24.4 million cwt., 4 million cwt. (16%).


Third-quarter retail sales

Potatoes USA’s report on January-March sales, compiled using research firm IRI data, shows that fresh potato sales slipped compared to the same 3-month period a year ago. Third-quarter sales dropped slightly from $732.8 million in 2018 to $726.5 million this year, a drop of just under 1%. The drop in volume, was higher, from 1.06 billion pounds to 1 billion pounds, a 5.6% change, according to Potatoes USA.

Russets, which make up the greatest percentage of all potato types at almost 64% of the crop sold in the third quarter, saw an 8.3% drop in volume sold at retail. But sales value of russets, which brought in $371.2 during the three months, slipped only 2.3%, leading to a positive change in price per pound of 6.5%, the largest increase in all varieties, including reds, yellows, whites and medleys.

Overall gains in retail sales by package size were led by the 10-pound category (which accounted for about 18% of sales), which saw an almost 10% increase in price per pound, at an average of 42 cents a pound.

The overwhelming highest per-pound packs, however, remain the 1- to 4-pound packages, which average $1.61 a pound — trailed by the second-highest package, 5-pounders, at 60 cents a pound, according to the Potatoes USA report. Bulk potatoes, all varieties, averaged $1.03 a pound.

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